OF FLAGS AND FATHERS



My childhood friend Linda and I when I came home to St. Louis after graduating from Air Force
basic military training in December 1975.


June 14 means more to me than just Flag Day.  On that day in 1996, I retired from the Air Force as a master sergeant with nearly 21 years of service.

I joined the Air Force mainly because I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. And now that I’m about to turn 56, I’m still wondering. But that’s OK, because every day is full of promise and potential.

Thanks to the Air Force, I can look back and think of all the cool things I've done and seen and know there's more ahead for me. If I've learned anything over the years it's that you should never sell yourself short. Believe in yourself. When other people doubt you, don't give in to their bad vibes.

Me and my dad in 1961.

I also tried my hardest to follow the advice my Pop gave me, and since Sunday is Fathers Day, it seems only fitting that I share that with you now:

“Whatever you do, if your name is on it, you should be proud of it.”

He said that to me many times, but I think the first time was when I was in 5th or 6th grade. I had rushed through my homework without any thought to how it sounded or looked because I just wanted to get it done. He got his point across in that heavy German accent of his and I was ashamed I hadn’t done my best. I don’t think there was a lower feeling than disappointing my Pop.

My brothers and I on my graduation day in June 1975.

I’m glad I followed some other advice he gave me, too. When I was a high school senior and trying to figure out what to do with my life, I mentioned that I might stop by the Army Reserve Center that was near the McDonald’s I worked at in south St. Louis.

We were sitting at our kitchen table and he got up and went to his desk. He came back with an Air Force recruiting pamphlet. I had thrown it in the trash … but he had retrieved it and set it aside.

“Here,” he said. “You should look at the Air Force. I think they treat their people better than the Army does.”

Thanks, Pop.

And thanks, U.S. Air Force.

Home on leave just before I headed out to my first assignment
at Clark AB, Republic of the Philippines. I was a medic the first
six years of my career, and served at Clark; Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio;
Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; and Scott AFB, Ill., before retraining into the
public affairs career field.

Reenlisting for the first time, with Capt. Brenda Fohlmeister doing the honors, around 1979 at
Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.

Receiving my Community College of the Air Force degree in 1986 while stationed at the Air Force Academy.
This picture cracks me up. I'm listening to my boss, Col. Scott Duncan, read some kind of congratulatory
letter to me. The expression on my face says it all. This is around 1986 when I was stationed at the
Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

I served as "Madam Vice" at the dining-out celebrating the Air Force's 40th anniversary in September 1987
while stationed at Plattsburgh AFB, N.Y.

Crying tears of joy and relief in 1988. I was pregnant with my son
Josh and just found out I had at long last been promoted
to technical sergeant, E-6. I was stationed at Plattsburgh AFB, N.Y.
Shortly after I arrived at Brooks AFB in San Antonio, I got to ride on the Airship Shamu.
Receiving a Meritorious Service Medal from Maj. Gen. (Dr.) George Anderson.

Receiving an award from Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Robert Belihar.
At my retirement ceremony at Randolph AFB, Texas, on
June 14, 1996.


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